ANTAKY // The last thing Selim remembers from a security crackdown in his Syrian hometown are the two sniper shots that pierced his body. A day later, he woke up in a Turkish hospital across the border.
The 28-year-old worker was among several dozen wounded Syrians who managed to flee the bloodshed in their country, crossing through unguarded stretches of the border, and are now in the care of Turkish doctors.
Speaking in his hospital bed, Selim recounted how he was caught up on Sunday in a crackdown on the north-western town of Jisr al Shughour.
"The last thing I remember is the shots of a sniper: a bullet came through my collarbone and exited through my left flank. As I tried to warn my friends, another bullet pierced my hand. Then I lost consciousness," he said.
He woke up Monday in a hospital in Antakya, a Turkish town some 50km from the border. How he ended up there - he has no idea.
Fellow Syrians are believed to have taken the young man to the frontier, where he was picked by an ambulance.
More than 120 Syrians fled to Turkey to seek refuge from the violence in Jisr al Shughour. The United Nations refugee agency said many more are waiting to make the trip if unrest escalates.
Women and children are among those who left Syria on Tuesday and entered Turkey at the border town of Altinozu in Hatay province, the Turkish Red Crescent said. They bring the number of Syrians who have entered Turkey in recent days and are staying at a camp in the town of Yayladagi to more than 300, Metin Corabatir, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said.
The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said yesterday his government would not close its border with Syria amid the refugee influx.
The developments in Syria are "saddening" and Turkey is monitoring the events with apprehension, Mr Erdogan said in televised comments in Ankara. Syria should act to convince civilians it intends to widen liberties, he said.
Watch smiling Syrian SS plant guns and ammo on dead demonstrators
Mohammed, a 31-year-old housepainter, was also among Sunday's casualties in Jisr al Shughour.
"I was shot by plainclothes police. A bullet pierced my right hand and I cannot move three fingers now," he said, pointing at a large bandage around his hand.
"An hour later I was at the Turkish border. I was dropped there in a car. I passed through the barbed wire and then a Turkish ambulance took me to hospital," he said.
Mohamed - not his real name - speaks of indiscriminate violence against civilians in his town, including fire from helicopter gunships.
"We were burying our dead on Saturday. The security forces began to fire at the end of the burial. We were shot at from the central post office building, we were shot at from everywhere," he said.
"I saw many corpses but my first concern was to hide," he added.
The young man, backed by others in the hospital, denies that protesters killed members of the security forces.
Syrian state television said on Monday 120 policemen were killed by "armed gangs" who were "committing a real massacre," had "mutilated bodies and thrown others into the Assi river," and burnt public buildings.
Hasan, a man in his 50s with an injured leg, countered that the security forces "set fire to the headquarters of the [ruling] Baath party to have an excuse to kill people", insisting that he saw no dead policeman or soldier.
According to Mohammed, the streets of the town came under fire from two helicopter gunships on Sunday.
"Soldiers came and shot people from helicopters, they were firing randomly," he said.
Many of the wounded left behind families, like Selim, and staying in Turkey is out of the question for them.
"We are considered animals there. We have no rights, we own nothing. But if I survive, I will return - for democracy, for freedom," Selim said, his thoughts with his wife and child, sheltered in a village near Jisr al Shughour.
The first Syrian refugees crossed into Turkey in late April, breaking through barbed wire on the frontier.
* Agence France-Presse with additional reporting by Bloomberg